A common carrier accident under Florida law involves for-hire, publicly available transportation.
Examples are public buses, Metrorail services, and private taxis.
If you have been harmed in an accident involving a common carrier in Florida, you have important rights. Our Coral Gables personal injury attorneys explain.
What If You’re in a Common Carrier Accident in Florida?
If you’re in a common carrier accident in Florida:
- You may qualify to receive financial compensation.
- There is an especially high standard of care for common carriers that applies to the case. The common carrier may be liable to pay compensation if they were not very careful in their operation.
- You must prove that you were harmed because of the breach of the standard of care.
- If the common carrier is a government-owned and operated entity, the Florida Tort Claims Act may also apply to the claim.
- To receive compensation, you must bring a claim.
- An experienced attorney is essential for your claim.
The Maderal Byrne & Furst attorneys represent victims in common carrier accidents. If you or a loved one has been harmed, we invite you to contact us.
How does Florida law define common carriers?
Florida Statutes § 908.111 defines a common carrier as a person, firm, or corporation that transports persons or commodities from place to place for hire, as regular business. The entity must offer its services to all who choose to employ it and pay the charges.
A common carrier may be public or private. What they have in common is that they transport people or commodities for hire, and they accept any paying customer who wishes to hire them.
Examples of common carriers
Examples of common carriers include:
- Miami-Dade County Metrorail, other public train services
- Miami-Dade County Metrobus, other public bus services
- Coral Gables Trolley
- Taxis, private driver services, charter buses
- Commercial airlines operating regularly scheduled flights
- Companies that transport commodities
Remember that a common carrier includes entities that transport persons or commodities.
Whether the entity is a common carrier may be important in your claim because it can impact the applicable law. As attorneys representing accident victims, we work to ensure the correct law is applied to your claim.
Negligence of a Common Carrier in Florida
When someone chooses to ride a public bus, take the Metrorail, or hail a taxi, they put their trust in the transportation service. The transportation company is responsible for the safety of their riders. Because of this position of trust, a common carrier has an especially high duty of care.
A common carrier must use the highest degree of care consistent with the type of transportation and operation of a common carrier.
The legal standard is not just that of a reasonable person. Rather, it is the standard of a very careful person. A common carrier breaches their duty when doing something a very careful person wouldn’t do, or failing to do that they would do under similar circumstances.
The highest degree of care applies to the safety of a fare-paying passenger. Generally, the jury decides whether the common carrier was negligent in the discharge of its duty. See Homan v. County of Dade, 248 So. 2d 235 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1971).
What about comparative negligence in common carrier claims?
If the defense alleges comparative negligence in a Florida common carrier claim, the standard of care that applies to the plaintiff is that of a reasonably careful person. The standard of a very careful person applies to the common carrier, but the injured passenger is judged based on the standard of a reasonably careful person.
See Florida Standard Jury Instructions 401.6.
Does a common carrier act as an insurer for its passengers?
No. A common carrier’s high duty of care is not the same thing as acting as an insurer for passengers. A common carrier will be liable only if they have breached a duty of care. They are not strictly liable. See Swilley v. Economy Cab Co. of Jacksonville, 46 So. 2d 173 (1950).
Is Uber a common carrier in Florida?
The Florida transportation network law, Florida Statutes § 627.748(2) states that Uber is not a common carrier. However, Uber and its drivers still have a duty of care to riders. If you are harmed in an accident involving a rideshare vehicle, you may qualify for compensation.
Common Carriers and the Florida Tort Claims Act
When pursuing a claim for a common carrier accident in Florida, it’s important to remember that many common carriers are also government entities. Both the standards of negligence applicable to common carriers and the Florida Tort Claims Act apply when the common carrier is a government entity. (Florida Statutes § 768.28.)
If the Tort Claims Act applies to an accident claim involving a common carrier, it changes the case in several ways. There are statutory maximums that can be claimed, and punitive damages and prejudgment interest are not paid. The victim must provide a notice of claim before commencing the lawsuit. Limitation periods apply.
Procedural steps for claims involving a government entity are specific. It’s critical to have an attorney assist you with these steps because even an unintentional error can prevent you from receiving compensation.
Getting Compensation for a Common Carrier Accident
The higher standard of care that applies in common carrier accident claims can work in the victim’s favor. However, the victim must still prove each element of their claim. They must argue to the court for the correct application of the law and appropriate jury instructions. If the Florida Tort Claims Act applies, the victim must comply with its procedural requirements, understanding the different provisions of law that apply as compared to private entities.
Florida Attorneys for Accidents Involving Common Carriers
At Maderal Byrne & Furst, we represent victims in claims involving common carrier liability. Our experienced legal team can represent you, and we will go above and beyond to achieve justice.